At Charles House, an eldercare day program in Chapel Hill, volunteer Lily Root often works with people who have difficulty recognizing her or remembering her name.
But, every Monday morning, when she walks into Charles House for her shift, she is greeted by a resident named Doug, who always asks, “Hey Lily, want to see my comic strip for today?”
"Of course," she always says.
She said it's the best part of her day.
Charles House is one of two day program centers for elderly people in Orange County and differs from other senior care facilities because it offers more structured engagement, associate director Dean Fox said.
Up to 38 members follow a schedule throughout the day, taking part in activities such as flower arranging, news discussion groups, exercise and jeopardy games. They are also able to choose what they want to do.
The program specializes in working with people with dementia, meaning volunteers and full-time workers take special care in providing engaging activities to slow the progression of the disease.
"We're very focused on treating folks as adults with adult lives and adult experiences and adult desires and abilities,” Fox said. “And so we really are focused on the abilities and the experiences and the skills that folks bring with them and not on their function loss.”
According to its website, the original center was opened in 1990 by a family who was unable to find eldercare options they liked for their father in full-time care facilities or through at-home care. A secondary full-time care location was opened in Carrboro in 2014.